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"Culture fit" is shaking up the NFL

By Jacob Feldman
April 06, 2018

One through-line connects nearly every notable piece of personnel news from the last week-plus: Su'a Cravens being traded to the Broncos, the Rams adding Brandin Cooks and Ndamukong Suh, Jim Mora suggesting former UCLA QB Josh Rosen might not be the best pick for the Browns, Odell Beckham Jr. rumors percolating, ​and most recently Marquette King losing his punting job with the Raiders only to find a new one in Denver. The link? Personality. Fit. No matter the terminology—bold guy, obstreperous personality, different cat—some teams seem wary of those players, while a handful of franchises respond, Bring 'em on

The Broncos are already to home to a superstar, Von Miller, who might also be the league's weirdest player. Now they've brought in Cravens, who walked off the Washington team just before the 2017 season, and King, who the old guard wishes would just walk off the field after each punt rather than, say, dabbing. Los Angeles, meanwhile, is confident its locker room can absorb a fickle Marcus Peters and an unreserved Aqib Talib plus the two new additions, Suh and Cooks (who once expressed his philosophy thusly: "Closed mouths don't get fed").

All those moves prove the point Mora might have been trying to make when he said Rosen's destination is critical because the quarterback "has a lot of interests in life." It's clearer now than ever: Independence is more welcome in certain towns. Beckham's rumored availability is yet another sign that on-field production isn't all GMs are looking for.

Of course, this isn't a new trend (nor am I the first to point it out). The Eagles just rode a loud locker room to a surprise title. Before them, it was the Seahawks who proved opinionated players could also be champions. New England has time and again leaned on The Patriot Way to get value out of players who caused headaches elsewhere. Yet, a large chunk of the league still seems uninterested in managing distinctive people. Why?

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PRESS COVERAGE

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1. Texans owner Bob McNair reignited the controversy around "We can't have the inmates running the prison" by telling The Wall Street Journal he regrets having apologized for that remark. "We were talking about a number of things, but we were also washing some of our dirty linen, which you do internally. You don’t do that publicly. That’s what I was addressing: The relationship of owners and the league office," McNair said. "In business, it’s a common expression. But the general public doesn’t understand it, perhaps." Also in the story, McNair compares NFL players to fast-food employees and says, "We need to stay out of politics. That’s been my message."

2. The Titans have new uniforms! If you want to read about chromatically asymmetrical helmet stripes​ and nested numerals, here's Paul Lukas's breakdown, which also includes a slam at Nike's process for rolling out these redesigns.

3. The Ravens have signed Robert Griffin III and, before you ask, The Baltimore Sun explains why the team's newest QB isn't Colin Kaepernick

4. Hayden Hurst has gone from a baseball flameout to a potential first-round NFL pick. With access to Hurst's journal, Dan Pompei describes the transformation.

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5. Though the end was rocky, Tyrann Mathieu has made sure to thank Arizona now that he's a Texan.

6. A couple free-agency notes: the Cowboys have added to their defensive line by signing Kony Ealy, while the Jets had in defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins for a visit Thursday.

7. One reporter got the chance to officiate a college football (spring) game. It turned out to be "crazy difficult."

8. Bill Connelly dove deep into the stats to see what a QB's college results might tell us about how they'll fare as a pro. As expected, the results aren't pretty for Josh Allen.

9. If you've got $500 million laying around, a portion of the Titans is still for sale.

10. ... And if you don't have $500 million, maybe you can get a little closer by betting on the draft (or, more likely, head in the wrong direction). This year, William Hill US is offering 31 selection-related prop bets.

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let us know here.


THE KICKER

Turns out, juking an attack dog might not be such a great idea. Or should I say trying to juke.

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